Deadly Illinois truck crash – 2 girls killed, 6 others hurt

A semi truck vs. car accident that occurred in downstate Illinois has resulted in the death of two girls and injuries to six others, according to Illinois state police are saying that the victims fatally injured were ages 12 and 15 years old, both from Mattoon. The collision occurred on Illinois 316 just west of Loxa on the morning of June 1.

The two victims were traveling in a van that was involved in a collision with a semi truck. The van rolled over in the accident, ejecting seven people. The driver of the van, a 26-year-old woman from Mattoon, was reportedly in a hurry and passed a vehicle traveling east bound. The driver lost control of her van and then entered the westbound lane.
When the van crossed the center line, a semi truck was passing by in the opposite direction. The trucker was unable to avoid striking the van, making contact with the rear passenger side the vehicle. The van then rolled into a ditch on the North side of the highway.

Troopers ticketed the van driver for improper lane usage, no valid drivers license, driving an uninsured vehicle, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt. The accident is still being investigated. At least 5 of the occupants were not wearing seat belts. Due to the fatalities and seat belt violations, it is possible that the Coles County State’s Attorney’s office could upgrade the charges against the at fault driver.

One of the girls fatally injured was helicoptered to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, and the other was taken by Mattoon Fire Department ambulance to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. The others injured were taken to the same to hospitals by ambulance.

While our hearts go out to the victims and their families, a case like this raises several issues.

First, there is a basic safety issue. A crash like this reminds us of the need to wear seat belts. There is the possibility that lives might have not been lost and injuries to others might not have been as severe if everyone was belted in the van.

According to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, nationally in 2008 child restraints and safety belts saved the lives of over 13,000 vehicle occupants over the age of 4. If properly used, child car seats reduce the risk of death by 54% for toddlers and by 71% for infants. Front seat shoulder belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and reduce the risk of serious injuries by 50%.

In 2008 over 90% of drivers and passengers wore seat belts. Further, over 90% of children were placed in child passenger safety seats.

In 2009, 130,223 people were cited and convicted in Illinois for not wearing safety belts, and 5388 people were convicted for not properly placing their child in a car seat.

As far as a civil claim is concerned, it appears that the driver of the van was uninsured. If an Illinois personal injury lawyer gets involved in the case on behalf of one of the victims, he or she might explore the possibility of an uninsured motorist claim. There, the injured passenger can make a claim against his or her own family’s auto insurance policy. Click here to read more about Illinois uninsured motorist claims.

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